Fire leaves Pa. family homeless

December 21, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With the temperature at 18 degrees and the wind-chill factor making it seem much colder, a mobile home rented by a Hamilton Township family was destroyed Monday afternoon when the owner tried to thaw a frozen pipe.

Harry Lehman, of 3115 Keefer Road, said he placed a large electric heater outside the mobile home at 3196 Keefer Road to blow air underneath it and thaw the pipe and it set fire to hay bales he had set around the heater.

"It appeared he was using the hay to block the wind from getting under the trailer," Franklin Fire Co. Chief Jamie Hammond said.


The mobile home was rented to the family of Amado Serreno, Lehman said. Serreno was at work, but his wife and daughter were inside when the fire started at about 3 p.m., he said.

Both got out of the house without injury, he said.

"We yanked out as much as we could," Lehman said of the Serreno family's belongings. Serreno's employer had made arrangements to house the family, he said.

Lehman said the structure was insured. No Red Cross assistance was requested for the family, Hammond said.

"Bitter," was how Hammond described the weather conditions firefighters faced at the scene. Runoff from the fire hoses quickly froze on the road in front of the mobile home and township crews spread salt and sand on the road.

The fire took about 30 minutes to bring under control and firefighters were at the scene until about 4:45 p.m., Hammond said. The nearest source of water was a hydrant near a water tower less than a mile away from the mobile home, he said.

Along with the Franklin Fire Co., firefighters from Letterkenny Army Depot, New Franklin, Marion, Fayetteville and Shippensburg assisted at the scene, Hammond said.

Chambersburg and West Shore ambulances were standing by, but "that was just to keep the guys warm," Hammond said. No firefighters were hurt, he said.

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